March 19, 2020 / 5:54 PM / 12 days ago

Trump says he will enter Saudi-Russia oil fray at appropriate time

U.S. President Donald Trump takes questions during the coronavirus response daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said he would get involved in the oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia at the appropriate time, saying low gasoline prices were good for U.S. consumers even as they were hurting the industry.

Saudi Arabia and Russia have been fighting over oil market share after their three-year agreement to hold back production collapsed this month. Their pumping of oil flat out during a time of severely reduced global demand due to the spread of the coronavirus has pushed crude prices to near 20-year lows this week.

“We are trying to find some kind of a medium ground,” Trump told reporters at a White House news conference, adding that he had spoken to several people about the dispute.

“It’s very devastating to Russia because when you look at it, their whole economy is based on that and we have the lowest oil prices in decades so it’s very devastating to Russia. I would say it is very bad for Saudi Arabia but they’re in a fight, they’re in a fight on price, they’re in a fight on output. At the appropriate time I’ll get involved,” he said.

Trump talked about oil markets with Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a call on March 9. In addition, the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, John Abizaid, spoke with the Saudi energy minister last Thursday about oil markets, the State Department said. There have been few details about those conversations.

Reporting by Jeff Mason and Alexandra Alper; writing by Timothy Gardner and Susan Heavey; Editing by Franklin Paul and Howard Goller

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